About the Major
Majors in Religion will be expected to achieve a degree of mastery in three areas of the field as a whole. First, they will be expected to gain a close knowledge of a particular religious tradition, including both its ancient and modern forms, in its scriptural, ritual, reflective, and institutional dimensions. Ordinarily this will be achieved through a concentration of courses within the major. A student might also choose to develop a program of language in relation to this part of the program, though this would not ordinarily be required for or count toward the major.
Second, all majors will be expected to gain a more general knowledge of some other religious tradition quite different from that on which they are concentrating. Ordinarily this requirement will be met by one or two courses.
Third, all majors will be expected to gain a general knowledge of the theoretical and methodological resources pertinent to the study of religion in all its forms. It is further expected of Honors majors that their theses will demonstrate an awareness of the theoretical and methodological issues ingredient in the topic being studied.
Majors in Religion are required to take Religion 111 "Introduction to Religion," Religion 210 "The Nature of Religion," and six additional courses in Religion or related studies approved by the Department. In meeting this requirement, majors and prospective majors should note that no course in Religion (including Five College courses) or in a related field will be counted toward the major in Religion if it is not approved by the student's departmental advisor as part of a general course of study designed to cover the three areas described above. In other words, a random selection of eight courses in Religion will not necessarily satisfy the course requirement for the major in Religion.
All majors, including "double majors," are required early in the second semester of the senior year to take a comprehensive examination in Religion. This examination will be designed to allow the student to deal with each of the three aspects of his or her program as described above, though not in the form of a summary report of what has been learned in each area. Rather, the emphasis will be on students' abilities to use what they have learn in order to think critically about general issues in the field.
The exam topic--a theoretically provocative work on some aspect of religious studies, to be announced later--will be sent to seniors before winter break. A response essay will be due in early February, and a meeting will be scheduled later that month for seniors and department faculty to discuss the topic and the senior essay. Please see Professor Andrew Dole, Chair, if you have questions.
Honors in Religion shall consist of Religion 111, Religion 210, and the thesis courses, Religion 498 and 499, plus five additional courses in Religion or related studies approved by the Department; satisfactory fulfillment of the general Honors requirements of the College; satisfactory performance in the comprehensive examination; and the satisfactory preparation and oral defense of a scholarly essay on a topic approved the Department.